Sunday, 25 September 2011

How to Grow Butternut Squash

Butternut squash growing is an excellent choice for small scale young farmers in Kenya. It is a simple task which beginners in farming can cope with. Read this article for basic understanding of cultivation of this crop.Butternut squash which originated from Mexico has a sweet nutty taste. It is rich in vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C.The requirements for growth are fertile well drained soils and sunlight at least 6 hours daily. Apply compost or organic manure, before planting. Hybrid seeds should be planted 2.5 cm deep, with a spacing of 90 cm from one row to another and 45cm from plant to plant. Watering must be done moderately, soon after sowing then, once in every two to three days until the seeds germinate. Seed germination takes place after 7-10 days. Keep the field free of weeds throughout the growing period.
Pest and disease control is an important aspect of butternut squash production. These plants are prone to various pests and diseases. In case you notice signs of pests and diseases, contact agriculture extension officer, for correct technical advice. There are many pesticides in the market including organic pesticides. If you need to apply pesticides or other such products, do it in the evening, to avoid interfering with bees which are important for pollination. Butternut squash produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant and therefore they require insects for cross-pollination.Butternut squash maturity period is between 75 and 120 days after germination. Mature butternut squash are beige to light tan color with shriveling drying stems and extremely hard skin. Butternut squash with green color still on it is not yet mature. Harvest ripe fruits by cutting the stems about 2.5 cm up from the fruit. Don’t handle the harvested fruit by the stem, as the stem cannot bear the weight. Butternut Squash has a long storage life of up to 3 months and they should be mature and free from injury and decay when stored. They should be kept dry and provided with good air circulationButternut squash has market value and demand both in Kenya and abroad. You can sell to market traders from Nairobi and other major towns. Youth groups can link their members with exporters’ to by-pass middlemen for better returns.

How to use butternut squash
Butternut squash has a pale brown-orange skin and a deep, orange flesh. The wonderfully moist flesh has a sweet, nutty flavor and a slightly fibrous firm texture. Butternut squash can be roasted whole and the cooked flesh scooped out afterwards or it can be boiled. Butternut squash can be included in soups .Fresh sage flavoring particularly goes well with butternut squash recipes. Mashed butternut squash makes a tasty side dish to serve with chicken, beef or lamb. Flavor the mash with a little ground nutmeg, cinnamon or cumin to help bring out the sweetness. Butternut squash can also be pureed to make baby food.

Butternut Soup recipe

Butternut squash is naturally sweet and it makes a delicious soup which is great to serve with roast beef, chicken, lamb or slices of bread.


2 medium butternuts
2 medium Irish potatoes
2 medium onions
50g butter/margarine [ 4 tablespoons]
7 ml medium curry powder ([ ¼ teaspoon-optional]
40 g corn flour [4 Tablespoons]
Pinch of ground nutmeg[optional]
4 medium sized tomatoes
750 ml boiling water [3 cups]
500 ml milk [2 cups]
7 ml salt [1 ½ teaspoon]


Peel the butternut squash, scoop out seed and dice the butternuts. Peel and chop the Irish potatoes, Peel the onions and tomatoes and chop roughly. Cook lightly the chopped onions and tomatoes in the butter/margarine. Add the curry powder and fry the mixture lightly. Add the butternut and potatoes and cook the mixture for a while. Add the flour and nutmeg and stir-fry lightly.

Add the water and the milk, salt, to the butternut mixture. Boil, with the lid on, over moderate heat soft stirring the mixture occasionally then Puree or blend until smooth. Serve the soup hot. Each bowl of soup may be garnished with finely chopped parsley.
Makes 2 liters [8 cups] of soup

Mashed butternut squash
2 medium butternuts
6 medium Irish potatoes
2 cloves garlic
Pinch of nutmeg [optional]
20 g butter/margarine [2 tablespoons]

Halve the squash and peel off the skin using a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds, then cut the flesh into even-sized chunks. Peel the potatoes and wash together with butternut chunks.
Bring 1 inch of salted water to the boil in a large pot; add prepared squash chunks, potatoes and garlic and steam for 15-20 minutes or until tender, adding more water to the pan if necessary. Mash the vegetables till fairly smooth. Add ground nutmeg and margarine. Serve hot with beef, chicken or lamb. More-